Former Nuclear Workers May Be
Eligible for Benefits
Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD) of the AFL-CIO
is helping streamline the process for workers seeking benefits related
to past work at nuclear weapons plants. They are assisting workers
verifying employment histories to speed up payment of claims for
illnesses that might be tied to work that was done as long ago as
World War II.
The BCTD work is being done by the Center to Protect Workers’
Rights (CPWR) and the U.S. Department of Labor to smooth the process
so union members will receive the medical and financial help they
Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
Act, which took effect July 31, 2001, former workers who have chronic
beryllium disease, radiation-related cancers, and chronic silicosis
are eligible for medical care. They or their survivors are also
eligible for $150,000.
The process of paying former nuclear workers has been slowed by
incomplete Energy Department records showing proof of employment.
The Department of Labor has processed more than 47,800 claims in
just over two years, but only 9,143 have been paid.
If DOE records do not prove a worker’s employment at a weapons
plant, the Department of Labor can use Social Security, union records
or statements from coworkers or other contacts. For help with union
records, the Department of Labor has contracted with CPWR, with
assistance from the University of Cincinnati Medical School, Zenith
Administrators, and affiliated building trades unions.
CPWR and its partners are searching local-union dispatch, health
and welfare, and pension records. Some local unions have records
from the mid-1950s. The program runs through June 2004.
To learn about the compensation program, call 1-888-859-7211.
In a separate program, CPWR, the University of Cincinnati Medical
Center, Duke University Medical Center, Zenith, and local Building
Trades councils since 1998 have conducted free screenings of more
than 4,500 former construction and maintenance workers at some DOE
nuclear facilities to find possible health hazards related to past
work. The screenings are continuing for workers at Savannah River,
Oak Ridge, and Hanford, and have recently been expanded to Paducah,
Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio. Information from the screenings
can help a worker decide whether to file a claim with the Department
Time is limited for the screenings and the compensation program.
To learn more about the screenings, call 1-800-866-9663.